Revolutionising the runway – Why Bella Hadid’s spray on dress is the future of fashion

Bella Hadid stunned in a white spray paint slip dress in the Coperni spring/summer 2023 show at Paris fashion week last Friday and the spectacle became an overnight viral sensation.

Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Valliant, the founders of the Parisian label, Coperni, have been using cutting-edge technology to shape their designs since their launch in 2013. Incorporating alternative textiles such as glass handbags and a solid 18-carat gold Swipe bag they have transformed the runway into a futuristic playground for all things fashionable.

The alternative brand collaborated with Manel Torres, a Spanish scientist and fashion designer to create the show’s finale. Bella Hadid’s dress took only seven minutes to create and until sprayed upon her almost nude body, was a liquid. The material itself, Fabrican is a liquid fibre that hardens into a spray. The dress was then crafted into an off-the-shoulder figure-hugging garment with a thigh-length split. It is rumoured that Torres was inspired by a can of crazy string and the idea for a spray-on dress subsequently blossomed.

While the moment will no doubt go down in fashion history, it is not the only example of designers using alternative technology to dress their models. In fact, it’s not even the first time a model has been spray painted on the runway, the Coperni look is reminiscent of Alexander McQueen’s 1999 Spring/Summer show.

Alexander McQueen 1999 show. Image Credit: Victor Vergile

Model Shalom Harlow dressed in a strapless white tulle dress and stood upon a rotating platform, as she spun the dress was sprayed almost manically with black and yellow paint. McQueen’s ’99 collection has a more industrial feel to it, however, as the machines used to paint the dress were created by car manufacturer Fiat and were made to spray vehicles.

Another notable technological advance in fashion is Issey Miyake’s SS20 (Spring/Summer 2020 show) In which the models strutted the runway in skin-coloured underwear ready to be dressed by drones.

Model dressed by a drone at Issey Miyake’s show. Image Credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

This futuristic method of the dress was created by attaching the garments to a hoop, which was dropped over the models who then reached for the hat provided as the hoop released the dress. once dressed the models created an even more alternative show and began a choreographed bouncing display rather than a conventional walk to show off the clothing.

Although, the Balenciaga SS22 deep fake show was perhaps the most surreal fashion show to date. It took place post-COVID-19 pandemic when everyone was perhaps too familiar with online content, and the show was no different. In this collection designed for Spring 2022, the show was entirely a CGI production which superimposed the face of Eliza Douglas, the brand’s signature model, onto every model who appeared on the runway.

Balenciaga’s Deep Fake show. Image Credit: Glamour Magazine

In this obscure display, Douglas was seen walking the runway repeatedly in different outfits, with many commenting that it seemed as though clones had been used.

Similarly, the Metamorphosis collaboration between tech giant Microsoft and New York-based clothing brand Rag & Bone demonstrated their collection by creating an entirely virtual show. In this display, not a single garment, model or background was real the entire experience was developed to create an experimental short film to test the boundaries of fashion.

Microsoft and Rag & Bone collaboration. Image Credit: Microsoft

Aside from runways and digital garments, designers are beginning to use revolutionary technology to create clothing itself. This modern creativity is being endlessly woven into fabrics through techniques such as colour-shifting cloth developed by Google, lab-grown leather from Modern Meadow and 3D printing, seen in Iris Van Herpen’s 2015 collection. Fashion technology has advanced so far that there are now dresses that appear life-like and glow in the dark in response to being looked at. Created by Ying Gao the two high-tech dresses use sensory technology to adjust their shape and light when gazed upon. These genius fabrics are challenging the conventions of fashion while inventions by creative designers are pushing the boundaries of fashion.

So, while Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress may not be the first innovative piece on the runway, it does showcase all that fashion can achieve. Perhaps such technological advancements in textile production will mean that we see spray-on dresses taking over the high street.

Lead image: Dezeen on YouTube

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